In 1979, when the
Sugar Hill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” critics regarded
rap music as just a passing fad. Twenty-five years later, P.Diddy, clad in Run-DMC
regalia—Shelltops, black leather blazer and fedora—stood on the stage
at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan and uttered the famous Bad Boy mantra,
which could easily double as that of hip-hop’s: “I thought I told
you that we won’t stop.”
Diddy, along with
the evening’s emcee, Vivica A. Fox, and a host of others (MC Lyte, Tracy
Morgan, Rosalyn Sanchez, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre) gathered Sunday night [October
3rd] in New York for the inaugural VH1 Hip-Hop Honors to celebrate the contributions
of hip-hop’s founders and pioneers.
always used to ask us when we first started back in ‘83, ‘Where
do you think you’ll be in five years? ’” recalled DMC of the
early naysayers. “And we said in 15 years, we’ll be back here doing
an interview with you.
our time to celebrate,” the rapper added gleefully.
Enemy, and KRS-One were all honored in a nod to the Golden Era of hip-hop. Fat
Joe and the Terror Squad performed a rendition of KRS-One and the Boogie Down
Production’s “South Bronx.”
Joe, though tired
and winded during the rendition, won the admiration of the Blastmaster. “To
have Joe do it, who I used to spray paint with, and Pun was the lookout,”
KRS said of his fellow borough resident. “It was perfect.”
Nas also performed
a less than stellar, but heartfelt, tribute as the thought-provoking emcee invoked
2Pac with “Keep Ya Head Up.” ‘Pac’s sister, Sekywa Shakur,
represented the family and was visibly moved by the Queensbridge poet.
the words to the song with her eyes closed from her seat near the stage; the
scene was one of the more beautiful moments of the night.
Kid Rock joined DJs S&S, Kid Capri, Grandmaster Flash and Doug E. Fresh
in an All-Star Tribute to DJ Hollywood and DJ Kool Herc–easily the man
of the evening. “You can’t do jazz and not know Miles Davis,”
explained Ice T. “You can’t do hip-hop if you don’t know who
Herc is and these cats.”
To round out the
Four Elements of Hip-Hop, the Rock Steady Crew and the graffiti movement were
also honored, respectively. Fab 5 Freddy reunited with Debbie Harry as the duo
introduced the graf dedication.
Harry was humbled
as she recounted her remarkable hit song “Rapture” and her inclusion
in the night’s events. “I feel like I’m really very lucky
to be a part of it [hip-hop],” she said. “It made a difference in
my life and I think I made a different in its life.”
Although the night
was billed as a tribute to the past, many of the culture’s icons had opinions
on the present and suggestions for the future. Freddy noted in particular the
need for more balance in hip-hop. “Hopefully by taking a look back, people
can remember how flavorful it was when we had variety—so it’s not
just a one trick pony,” the former host of Yo! MTV Raps said. “It
gets better, though, the best is yet to come still.”
DJ Hollywood agreed.
The 50-year-old added that versatility was important in order to keep the culture
fresh. “I’m hoping that some of these guys don’t get locked
into the box,” Hollywood said. “So that in 35 years, they gonna
be telling their story.”
Said Herc: “I’m
just glad I’m not here speaking about it in the past tense.”
VH1 Hip-Hop Honors
airs on Tuesday October 12.